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The Soda Factory, Surry Hills


Crowd control and patron safety during live events

You'll Discover:

  • Procedures and skills for effective crowd control.
  • Strategies to ensure patron safety during live music events.
  • Key organisations that can provide help and advice in this area.
  • Why it’s important to get performers involved in your strategies.

If you're new to live music events or aiming to ramp up your performance program, its important to review your current crowd control and safety procedures. Even you had slick and well organised safety plans 12 months ago, if something has changed at your venue, it makes sense to review them. Infact, overlooking something or leaving room for error could bring serious social and legal repercussions to your venue and/or an event organiser.

You can get extensive and current information via the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Event Starter Guide. In particular, if you are embarking on your very first gig series we would recommend consulting this thoroughly before you begin organising it.

We have no doubt that your venue already has knowledge and strategies regarding patron safety and emergency procedures in day-to-day business, particularly through various licence application processes and Responsible Service of Alcohol policies. So in this article, we outline some of this information plus a few extra tips/suggestions to ensure that a venue is doing all it can to maintain the safety of staff and patrons when putting on live music.


Crowd control

Adequate security and fully trained staff on duty

Music South Australia outlines in their Best Practice Guide For Live Music Venues that “Remaining calm when a patron is aggravated is crucial to dealing with the situation.” A way to ensure this can happen is through having adequate security or crowd control staff on hand to de-escalate a situation. It’s also imperative that they are fully trained and familiar with the venue, so that in the event of an emergency they can act accordingly and minimise any harm to colleagues, performers and patrons. Some venues opt to have a venue manager be the first point of contact when de-escalating the situation (depending on the threat to personal safety), rather than a security guard. Think of this pointer as an add-on to your current procedures and shape to suit your venue best.

Door count

A crucial action, particularly in regard to un-ticketed events. The door count should be consistently monitored and updated to ensure that the venue does not go over capacity and lead to unsafe situations. Of course, you'll be across your own procedures for handing your venue when reaching capacity at other events.

Incident reports

In the event of an emergency or an incident at a live music event, use the venue's incident report to keep track of details (as you would for any non gig-related incidents). You can download a template for a ‘Venue Incident Report Form’ and also a ‘Venue Property Damage Report’ from the Live Music Office website.  

Emergency Management Plan

NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Event Starter Guide describes an Emergency Management Plan (EMP) (also known as an Emergency Response Plan) as a document that “outlines how you will respond to an emergency at your event.” They detail all of the necessary steps needed to complete an EMP. Click here to find out more and add on to your current EMP.

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Patron Safety

Accurate signage

If bands are drawing their own crowd to the venue, its highly likely that a number of event attendees may have never set foot in there before. Because of this, it’s imperative to have adequate signage to nearest restrooms, designated smoking areas and free water taps at the very least.

Adopt procedures that promote patron safety

A great example of this is the Ask for Angela campaign, which “encouraged patrons to approach bar staff and ‘ask for Angela’ if they needed help to leave an unsafe situation.” Patrons would then be removed from that area by a trained member of staff.

Check out this video via The Feed for more information.

LISTEN & Amnesty International promote the concept of ‘Safe Spaces’ through providing posters and signage as downloadable files on their website.

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